Monday, April 8, 2013



There's so much to write about the dosa that I don't know where to start! The dosa can be described as a kind of pancake or crepe, for the uninitiated. It is one of the most popular items on the South Indian's breakfast table and its beauty lies in the innumerable ways in which it can be made. What makes a great dosa is more difficult to write about than saying what can go wrong.

In this post, I have tried to keep it simple so that it may be useful even for the cooking enthusiast trying his/her hand at making a dosa for the first time.

You have the masala dosa and many, many more combinations/variations of the dosa. Restaurants boast of the incredible range of dosas they serve. They are far too many to list here!

The making of the dosa has also undergone modification depending on where you eat it. Years ago as a young bride in Gujarat, I found the masala dosa I was dying to have tasted almost sweetish. I found that a generous amounts of raisins had been added, which was something I was coming across for the first time.

The plain or "saada" dosa is the easiest of the lot to make, so I have addressed this first.

These days many people buy the ready to use idli/dosa batter available in stores. Here I have detailed the old fashioned way of preparing the dosa batter ourselves.

At the end I have tried to squeeze in a few important hints you might like to keep in mind. The secret to a good dosa is really in the batter you use. I have seen people use different proportions which they evolve over time. This is what I use.

  • Idli rice (Parboiled rice) 1 cup
  • Regular rice 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Urad dal (Black gram dal) 1/2 cup
  • Methi (Fenugreek) seeds 1 tsp
  • Oil
  • Salt, to taste
To prepare the batter
Soak the parboiled rice and regular rice in water for at least 6 hours.
Soak together the urad dal and methi seeds for about 6 hours.
Grind the parboiled rice and regular rice to a smooth batter.
Grind the mixture of urad dal and methi seeds also to a smooth batter.
Now mix both these batters and add salt. A rule of thumb is about 1/2 tsp of salt per 1 cup of dry rice and dal.
Pour these batters to a larger vessel.
Set aside for 12 hours for the fermentation to take place.

To make the dosa: 
Heat the tawa ( griddle.) Sprinkle a few drops of water. When the water sizzles, the tawa is ready for use.
Place a drop of oil on the tawa. Take a piece of onion and use it to spread the oil on the tawa. Wipe it off with a clean tissue. This will improve the surface and enhance the quality of the dosas.

Pour a ladleful of the batter on the tawa.
Spread this quickly using the ladle.
Move outwards from the centre using a continuous spiral motion till the dosa measures about 6 ".
Pour a teaspoon of oil around it. 
Cook for a couple of minutes till it becomes crisp at the edges.
Now, flip the dosa and cook the other side till done.
Serve hot with chutney of your choice.

The conventional dosa is flat but I have presented for you today, what we call the "topi" dosa, called so because it resembles a "topi" or cap.

  • Mix the two batters ( of rice, and urad dal & methi) by hand for best results.
  • Use a large vessel to ferment the batter as the volume will increase in the fermenting process. 
  • Do not use a container with an air tight lid while fermenting the batter.
  • Keep sprinkling water in between making dosas to prevent the tawa from getting over heated.
  • Adding a bit of sooji (semolina) to the batter makes the dosa more crisp.

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